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NBA Toronto Raptors Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam and Jakob Poeltl

Raptors Poeltl, Siakam And VanVleet Cruise Thru Summer League

Rookies no more, the Toronto Raptors Summer League “Big Three” Jakob Poeltl, Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet have cruised thru the first three games in Las Vegas. They’ve been here before and it shows.

If one can overlook those five turnovers in his last outing where the game against Nuggets turned into a version of “Keystone Cops” at the end, VanVleet has shown off his full range of skills over the three contests.

Driving to the basket and finishing thru traffic, VanVleet has hit on 57.9 percent of his two-point attempts. He’s also hit from outside on 5-11 three-point attempts (45.5 percent) and 7-7 from the charity stripe. Over the three games, VanVleet has averaged 14.7 points, 3.3 rebounds, 5.7 assists and 1.3 steals.

There have been those “Summer League Moments” where everyone isn’t on the same page and concentration has slipped, but it’s looked all too easy this time around for VanVleet.

Those Summer League announcers could back off a little on their regular Raptors 905 head coach Jerry Stackhouse quote that Siakam is “the best defensive player on the Raptors.” That’s stretching things really far.

Siakam is having a relatively easy time in Las Vegas though and is showing off a jump shot that not many would be expecting this soon in his NBA career.

Siakam is averaging 18.3 points, 5 boards, 2 assists, a steal and 1.7 blocks on 56.4 percent shooting from the field, but the real story is that he has made a three-pointer in each game and has shot 4-9 from deep. The Raptors want more three-point shooting and just maybe Siakam can add stretch-four to his list of attributes?

Poeltl is doing what Poeltl does. He is surprising people with his ability to put the ball on the floor and drive and he is effectively using his size to overpower just about everyone around the basket at both ends of the court. Averaging 14.7 points and pulling in 10 rebounds in each game, Poeltl is finishing at a 69 percent clip and looking very mobile for a big stocky center.

The Raptors newest signing, Alfonzo McKinnie, showed off why he was inked to multi-year/training camp invite contract in Game Three against the Nuggets. This kid can sky for putbacks and rebounds with ease.

Fun to watch and looking like the typical overenthusiastic rookie, McKinnie had 11 points and 11 rebounds against the Nuggets and if he can find some polish to his offense (5-15 shooting), this kid could become a real find.

Stackhouse loves this kid’s energy and it’s easy to see why.

By going 3-0 in the preliminary round, the Raptors earned themselves a practice day before the next round of the tournament starts.



Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.



NBA Toronto Raptors Jakob Poeltl and Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet and Raptor 905 at Las Vegas Summer League

Raptors Las Vegas Summer League Play Starts Friday

The Toronto Raptors will open the preliminary round of NBA Las Vegas Summer League on Friday, July 7 against the New Orleans Pelicans at Cox Pavilion. The Raptors will then face the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday, July 8 at Thomas & Mack Center and the Denver Nuggets on Monday, July 10 at Cox Pavilion. All games will be played on the University of Nevada Las Vegas campus.

After the three preliminary round games, teams are seeded in a tournament format that starts July 12 (schedule t.b.d.) and culminates with the championship game on July 17. Each team will play at least five games.

ESPN will present all 67 games from Las Vegas across its various platforms. NBA TV will air 28 games, starting with the league’s opener July 7, when the Raptors face the Pelicans at 6 p.m. ET.

Current Raptors Jakob Poeltl, Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet will headline this year’s squad. First round draft pick OG Anunoby will not participate in the tournament while he recovers from a right knee injury. Raptors assistant coaches Jama Mahlalela and Patrick Mutombo will serve as the team’s coaches.

It’s noteworthy that Bruno Caboclo will not be playing in Summer League this year.

This year marks Toronto’s 10th appearance at NBA Summer League in Las Vegas (2006, 2008-10, 2012-17). The Raptors finished Summer League in 2016 with a 4-1 record after reaching the quarterfinals of the tournament.

NBA D-League MIssissauga Raptors 905 E.J. Singler

Raptors E.J. Singler Stands Out At NBA Summer League

The Toronto Raptors NBA Summer League opener against the Kings was a 88-47 blowout by a tough Raptors squad featuring an entire starting lineup of players already under contract, but that’s not the point of these games. Coaches and managers want to see what skills players can bring to the court against opposition in a real game setting and Raptors 905 forward E.J. Singler has shown he has NBA three-point range and accuracy.

“I am kind of labeled as a three-point shooter,” Singler said. “I think (teams) know I can shoot, but they kind of want to see what else I can do.”

In 17.6 minutes against the Kings, Singler shot 4-6 from three-point range and scored 12 points confirming his NBA D-League numbers were no fluke. He had shot 47.5 percent from three-point range in his first NBA D-League season with the Stampede. Last year he again shot 47.5 percent from three-point range with the Raptors 905.

However, Singler showed more than just shooting with the 905 last season. He quickly became a team leader on the court and a boxscore stats stuffer. The 6’6 forward averaged 14.7 points, 7.5 rebounds and 3.4 assists with the Raptors D-League affiliate.

“I am trying to expand my game,” Singler explained. “Use my ball handling a little bit better coming off screens and just trying to be more aggressive.

“I play that three-four position and just try to make plays at both ends of the court.”

Singler is an interesting prospect for Toronto. The Raptors are arguably thin at the small forward spot and could use an injection of three-point shooting. At 26-years-old, Singler wouldn’t be your typical NBA rookie either. If he can show the continuing development of his game beyond just being a three-point threat, just maybe he could stick with the Raptors or another NBA team in need of more shooting for the upcoming season.





Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.





NBA D-League Raptors 905 E.J. Singler

E.J. Singler Could Be The Raptors Missing Wing

Thunder forward Kyle Singler’s younger brother finished off the NBA D-League season with the Raptors 905 and made a huge impact over the team’s final 10 games. Not surprisingly, he earned himself a spot on the Raptors Summer League team and if president and general manager Masai Ujiri can create a roster spot, the 26-year-old E.J. Singler could be the Raptors missing wing.

Singler was an older undrafted senior out of Oregon in 2013, so not much was widely known about him. The scouting report on E.J. coming out of college was:

E.J. Singler — Oregon — Senior wing: Through four years with the Ducks he proved to be a very smart, team oriented player that could really shoot the ball. He lacks NBA level strength and athleticism, but makes up for that with a strong basketball IQ.

In the NBA D-League, the younger 6’6 Singler has been proving he’s all of that and more. Plus, he is a far better shooter than his 6’8 brother (who isn’t bad.)

“Oh I’m way better (than Kyle),” E.J. told Pro Bball Report at the end of the 905 season. “That’s not even a question.

“We had a lot of good players in Idaho (Stampede), so I didn’t really have as much opportunity to play and showcase in Idaho and I was really grateful for the trade (to the 905) so I could showcase what I had and this offense here really showcased the positive things I could do on a basketball court.

“They gave me an opportunity here and I was really grateful for that.”

The Raptors 905 didn’t pick up E.J. on hope, he came with a D-League track record from his first season in Idaho when he shot 47.5 percent from three-point range on 5.5 attempts to score 14.1 points and grab 4.7 rebounds over 22 games. Unfortunately, he wasn’t a focus of the Stampede in his second season and his minutes were cut back, but that’s just how it goes in the D-League.

However, Singler exploded when given the freedom and opportunity to play in Mississauga as he reaffirmed his 47.5 percent shooting from deep on over 6 three-ball attempts per game and scored 14.7 points, 7.5 rebounds and handed out 3.4 assists with the Raptors 905. To say he was impressive would be an understatement.


E.J. looked good in the fast paced D-League  and he had a surprising ability to bang in the paint and hold his own on defense.

“I’ve played the four/five position in college,” Singler said. “I’ve had to play against bigger guys and I’ve played against my brother too who’s a lot bigger than me, so I’m used to it. I like to battle. I like to play hard. I like to be down low with the big guys. Our team defense was really good this year at the end of the season.”

The NBA D-League and NBA Summer League are a long ways from the NBA, but one thing that can translate is shooting and effort. E.J. Singler has both and he’s a player to watch this summer.



Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.






This Year’s NBA Summer League Standout Players

Marc Johnson of NBA Full Court Press Radio wraps up the 2015 NBA Summer League by taking a look at the standout players we should be keeping an eye on once the regular season starts.

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that Raptors second round draft pick Norman Powell made Johnson’s list.

Norman Powell. 6’5”, SG, 46th Pick, 2nd Round, Toronto
Summer League Stats: 18.3 PPG, 4.3 REB, 1.5 STL

For anyone who might have been worried about the Raptors’ future backcourt situation, I think Powell put those worries to rest. He really took command of the Shooting Guard position, taking what the defense gave him offensively. He effectively used his driving ability to explode to the basket, showing off his athleticism, and draining the outside shot when defenses sagged off of him. Defensively, I thought he was one of the best in Summer League, not bad for the 46th pick in the draft.

Dwight PowellThe NBA players returning for a second turn at Summer League are in their own class. More is expected from this group as Summer League should seem easy after a season with the big club. Mavericks big man and Team Canada hopeful Dwight Powell looked good and that bodes well for both teams that will be counting on him.

Dwight Powell, 6’11”, PF, 2nd Year, Dallas
Summer League Stats: 18.8 PPG, 9.2 REB, 2.5 AST

Powell is a diamond in the rough. Offensively, he is a complete basketball player, who resembles the Nets Brook Lopez. Powell was excellent in the low post, using an array of moves to score. His shooting ability and quickness made him an extremely tough cover for big men in the Summer League. A very good rebounder, who has a lively and active body.

Be sure to check out Johnson’s entire Summer League Wrap Up



Nogueira and McDermott

Bulls McBuckets McDermott Downs Raptors At Summer League

It was a game the Toronto Raptors Summer League squad had won in the first quarter and but for a 15 point fourth quarter from Doug “McBuckets” McDermott combined with some horrendous Raptors turnovers and missed free throws, the Bulls wouldn’t have pulled this game out of the fire. There was some genuine intensity on the court for a Summer League game as the Bulls hung on 84-80 at the end to advance in the tournament portion of the event.

It didn’t start out well for Chicago. Shooting 3-15 in the opening quarter, the Bulls quickly found themselves down 27-12. Turning the ball over 5 times and getting out rebounded 17-8, it didn’t look the Bulls were ready to play. The Raptors scored 4 points off their 5 steals led by Bruno Caboclo with 9 points on 4-5 shooting from the field. Everything was going Toronto’s way at this point.

Things started to even out in the second quarter, Chicago only turned the ball over once and made 7-20 shots, not exactly great shooting, but the Raptors were worse at 4-14, so the Bulls cut slightly into the lead 19-17. Rebounding was still an issue, but at 14-10, at least Toronto wasn’t getting everything anymore.

The Raptors came out of the break ice-cold and after hitting a three, the Bulls went on a 13-5 run to close to within 5 points of Toronto. Neither team was shooting the ball well, but the Raptors were shooting themselves in the foot from the free throw as they bricked 5 of their 8 attempts. The 5 turnovers turning into 4 extra points for the Bulls didn’t help the Raptors cause either.

Despite the Bulls closing the gap to 60-52 after three quarters, there was nothing to suggest this game was in any doubt. By this time both teams were playing poorly. The Bulls shooting 30 percent from the field and the Raptors down to 37 percent after their hot start in the opening frame. Just like in their first meeting, Toronto was holding McDermott in check as McBuckets was 5-15 from the field for 13 points. The difference this time was the Raptors freshly-signed to his initial NBA contract shooting guard Norman Powell was having trouble finishing for the first time in Vegas. Powell had 15 points, but the 59.5 percent shooter over the first 3 games was 5-14 at this point and to the Raptors dismay, it wasn’t going to get any better.

McDermott started the fourth quarter like he had something to play for. The consistent hustle and effort that was missing early was there from the start of the period and lasted through to the end. McDermott didn’t come off the court again and led his team back shooting 6-10 for 15 points as the Bulls outscored Toronto 32-20, shooting 50 percent from the field and overcoming an 11-7 rebounding deficit.

The Raptors found the range as well in the fourth, shooting 7-16, although Powell stayed cold going 0-2. As well as McDermott was playing, the Raptors handed this victory to Chicago with 7 turnovers that the Bulls turned into 16 fourth quarter points. They were quite simply getting out hustled with the game on the line.

McDermott finished with a game-high 28 points on 11-25 shooting and a team-high 8 rebounds. The only other Bulls player to crack double-figures in scoring was Diante Garrett off the bench with 11 points. He also had a game-high (tied) 4 assists. Big man Cameron Bairstow had 8 points, 5 rebounds and 5 blocked shots. Chicago lost the rebounding battle 56-41, but won the turnover war with 10 turnovers giving up just 7 points to the Raptors 19 turnovers that the Bulls capitalized on for 23 points. Neither team shot over 39 percent for the game.

Bruno Caboclo and Norman Powell led Toronto with 15 points each, but Caboclo shot 4-7 from the field while Powell struggled going 5-16. Lucas Nogueira was the Raptors most effective player and recorded a double-double with 11 points, a game-high 16 rebounds and a game-high (tied) 4 assists to go with his 3 blocked shots and a steal.

Ronald Roberts, who is expected to get a training camp invite from Toronto, had 9 points and 13 boards, but he was part of the problem at the free throw line going 1-6, all in the second half. Caboclo (6-7) and Nogueira (5-6) looked good at the charity stripe at 11-13, but the rest of the team was an abysmal 11-21 and that, as much as the turnovers, cost Toronto the game.

With the win Chicago moves on in the tournament and Toronto is relegated to a final match on Friday.

The Raptors coaching staff will be very pleased with what was accomplished during Summer League. Toronto’s focus was on rebounding and defense and over the four games they averaged +9 on the glass and were only outrebounded once, 39-37. Also, opponents averaged 34.5 percent shooting against Toronto and no team shot better than 37.1 percent. This is the theme the Raptors will be taking into training camp.



Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.



Brady Heslip walkingShould Raptors Give Canadian Brady Heslip a Camp Invite?

As Raptors GM Masai Ujiri seems to be the process of looking for training camp invitees that will likely end up with Raptors 905 in Mississauga, maybe he should take a look at Brady Heslip? After all, those defensive specialists the Raptors have been lining up could use a really challenging offensive player to work against and the Raptors new D-League team will need someone that can score.





Boston Celtics Media Day

Which Players Have Owned The NBA Summer League?

With only a handful of games left in Las Vegas after today, the potential future stars of the NBA have already left their mark at one of the Summer League venues. Some of these kids have been a huge surprise while others – looking at you Marcus Smart – simply don’t belong here anymore.

There have been a lot of great individual performances, but these guys have owned Summer League this year.

Celtics Marcus Smart

In Utah: 2 games averaging 28 minutes, 24 points, 44.1 FG%, 4.5 rebounds, 7.5 assists, 2.5 steals and 1.0 block.

Smart led his Summer League venue in points, assists and steals, but this kid averaged 9.8 points in the NBA playoffs a few months ago. Why is he even here?

Magic Aaron Gordon

In Orlando: 3 games averaging 32.7 minutes, 21.7 points, 50 FG%, 11.7 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.3 steals, 1.7 blocks

The fourth overall draft pick in 2014 had a rookie season to forget, but the 19-year-old looked great in Summer League leading his venue in rebounds and minutes played. The Magic have to be very happy.

Free Agent Seth Curry

In Las Vegas: 3 games averaging 32.3 minutes, 25 points, 45.6 FG%, 3.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 3.3 steals.

Curry is playing for a job with the Pelicans and he’s currently leading all Summer League venues in scoring and steals. However, he’s hoisting and missing a lot of long balls (4-22), so he doesn’t quite look like his brother just yet.

Pacers Myles Turner

In Orlando: 3 games averaging 29 minutes, 18.7 points, 60.5 FG%, 8.3 rebounds, 0.7 steals and 4.3 blocks.

The 11th pick of the 2015 NBA draft, the 7′ Turner is leading all Summer Leagues venues in blocked shots and he’s filling the net too. Roy Hibbert who?

Raptors Norman Powell

In Las Vegas: 3 games averaging 25 minutes, 19.3 points, 59.5 FG%, 4.7 rebounds, 1.7 steals and 1.3 blocks.

The Raptors 2015 second round draft pick has been wowing the crowds with high flying dunks, surprising blocks and some unexpected outside shooting. It looks like the long rangy athletic 6’4 guard has played himself into a guaranteed contract.

Mavericks Dwight Powell

In Las Vegas: 3 games averaging 32.3 minutes, 20.7 points, 43.2 FG%, 9.3 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 0.7 blocks.

The young Canadian big man has been working on his three-ball at Summer League and has connected on 7-28, so maybe its not quite ready for the NBA.

Free Agent Alan Williams

In Las Vegas: 2 games averaging 26 minutes, 21.5 points, 48.4 FG%, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal and 0.5 blocks.

An undrafted senior out of UC Santa Barbara, the big 6’8 center Williams played in Orlando first where he averaged 8 minutes, 1 point and 2.3 rebounds in 3 games, but he got his chance to shine in Vegas and he took it.

Suns T.J. Warren

In Las Vegas: in 3 games averaging 29.7 minutes, 19.3 points, 55.8 FG%, 2.7 assists, 1.7 steals and 0.7 blocks.

A 2014 lottery draft pick, Warren only played 40 games last year so he needed to be in Summer League and he’s produced.


Honorable Mention

The double-double guys: Alex Len 12.5/11 and 2 blocks, Jordan Mickey 12.7/10.7 and 3 blocks, and Branden Dawson 12.8/10.3,

The notables: Rodney Hood 22.5/7.5/2.5, Glenn Rice 22.7/5.0/2.3, Joe Young 22.5/2.5/3.3, Furkan Aldemir 5.3/13.3 and 2.7 blocks, Lucas Nogueira 8/10 and 3 blocks, Jarrid Famous 15.7/9.7, Larry Drew II 9.3/4.7/9.0 and 2.7 steals, Tim Frazier 11/5.7/8.0, and Emmanuel Mudiay 13.3/3.7/7.3.

Don’t get too excited, it’s only Summer League, but everyone would rather be noticed.



Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.



Lucas Nogueira head shot closeupLucas Nogueira Swats Away Rockets As Raptors Win Again

Raptors center Lucas Nogueira swatted away four shot attempts and ripped down a game-high 13 rebounds as Toronto overcame a 10 point first quarter deficit caused by 11 early turnovers and then a Rockets push in the dying minutes of the game to come away with the 95-87 win.